Friday, January 01, 2016

Yearbook 101

New year! This is about a very old tradition in many schools, both for kids and teachers. It's a big deal to sign each other's yearbooks and I try to write unique stuff in kids' annuals. Sometimes, other kids write stuff that is too unique! The following is from five years ago yesterday, August 21, 2006.

Our yearbooks came in last week. As is the case at many small schools, it's a big day and a big deal. All returning students receive an annual, the cost of which is factored in their book fee. The nature of yearbooks find them to be outdated by the time they are distributed but who cares? We had a dedication ceremony at the end-of-the-day assembly where the kids picked up their copies. Then, I began hearing one of my favorite phrases; "Coach, will you sign my yearbook?" You have to read between the lines. What the question really means is, "Will you write a message on one of the pages?" I am always honored to do so under one condition- the student has to write something in mine. I try not to be repetitive because kids look at each others' annuals and it's better if each is as unique as possible. I also avoid the most commonly repeated line in the history of annual signings: DON'T EVER CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!! I preached about the etiquette of yearbook signing in class this past week. The gist of my brief sermonette is be careful what you put down in ink because your words take on a life of their own and may come back to haunt you. My position seems to have been solidified in the strange and haunting murder of JonBenet Ramsey. For ten years, the case has seemed unsolvable and might prove to be in the long run but it became front page news again the past five days. John Mark Karr, a divorced and drifting teacher with a history of involvement in child pornography, has confessed to a role in her death. One of the leads police are following is based on a cryptic note Karr wrote in a friend's yearbook that bears a resemblance to a ransom note inscription in the Ramsey case. That yearbook signing was twenty-three years in the past.

Years ago, one of my high school basketball players asked me to make some appropriate remarks in her yearbook which I was glad to do. As I opened the cover and prepared to add my sentiments, I saw something that made my blood boil. Another student, let's call him Tommy, had penned something very crude in the young lady's annual. Like many male coaches, I tend to be protective of my female players so I jumped all over Tommy. He seemed repentant when I explained that he had just ruined Erica's yearbook. The next day, I did something a little shady. I was standing in the hallway when Tommy walked by and I told them there was a phone call for him in the office. "It's Erica's dad. He wants to speak to you about what you wrote in her yearbook." You should have seen the panic on his face. Of course, there was no phone call as I immediately made clear. He got the point. No young man in his right mind wants to face the father of a young lady when the young man has been vulgar in the presence of the girl. I don't know if Tommy learned a lesson- he was a good kid- but I know I wrote some stupid things in my time. My female students, regardless of grade, partake in the age old extracurricular activity of note writing. I tell them if they give a note to a boy, be prepared that he will be careless with her well-crafted treatise, often written in pink or purple ink, and it well might end up on the floor in front of his locker. I also add that notes are like nuclear waste, hard to dispose of and with a life span that can't be predicted. One player told me she had all her notes back to fifth grade and when she pulled them out to re-read them, she got mad all over again, even after eight years. Listen to what Jesus said about the history of our statements:
"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." (Matthew 12:36)
Unfortunately, he doesn't mention any statute of limitations for our speech which I think also includes the written word. Fortunately, he does provide the world's greatest eraser, his own blood, with the power to rinse away the sins that stem from my words, whether simply careless or calculated. And, he's preparing his own publication for the final graduation- The Book Of Life. I feel confident in saying, that will be the final yearbook.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Show business is just like high school, except you get paid."
Martin Mull

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at


matthew jones said...

I really liked this bloog because it showes how you protect your students. I also liked it when you scared "Randy".

Jon said...

You signed my yearbook!!!!

Anthony said...

hey i love your blog im trying to get your book too

Ron said...

The Book of Life,the final yearbook,that's good.

May we as believers in Jesus see many in that book we know, because we were willing to be used of the Lord in their life.

Raechelle said...

Hey coach Hawley it Devin Turner how are u??? Wow its been a while how was your summer all your trips?? well i was reading your most recent blog and i remembered hearing that story in class lol!! Well i hopefully will be there for the first football game on the 29th but i hope you have a great year!!
-Devin Raechelle